The season has begun! The home opener is close, and Islander fans are taking their jerseys out of the closet to wear on Saturday evening. The Islanders have played 2 games this season so far, the first against Tampa Bay, and the second against Toronto. It seems that we've seen all of the Islanders already this season - the promising young players with hustle, and the sloppy, almost asleep at the wheel play. I believe part of the reason we've seen the worse half of the Islanders is because of our lack of discipline by taking many penalties.
With a mere two games under our belt, we have been on the Penalty kill 17 times.
At the start of the season, the referees were given instructions to watch the players stick-work, and to call all possible slashing, hooking and obstruction penalties. I believe that this is part of the reason for so many penalties around the league. (The average number of penalties called for teams playing 2 games so far this season is 12) Regardless of whether or not the referees are over-calling penalties, the Islanders need to be more careful, and observant of what is happening around them - what will be called and what wont be. After the game, Butch Goring said, "Every time we got momentum on 5-on-5 we took a penalty. We've addressed it that we have to stay out of the box. We kept putting ourselves in a hole." We have a very capable penalty kill first unit of Connolly/Lapointe/Hamrlik/Jonsson, and second unit of Lindgren/Stapleton/Galley/Chara. Although these players have only given up one power play goal, the fact is that in order for us to win games, we need to focus on our offense. We need to stay out of the Sin Bin and put the puck in the net, especially on the powerplay.
The Islanders have been on the powerplay 12 times, and have not converted on any of them. They need to be able to take advantage of the extra man, and score on the power plays! Scoring on these power plays will be the difference between losing and winning games, and in the long run the team that's a contender for that last playoff spot.
If we can keep our guys out of the box, and score when we have the advantage, its going be a bright season.
See you Saturday.